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Robert Rauschenberg: Postcard Self-Portrait, Black Mountain (I) (1952)
"I ain't no action figure."

I do not behave like a standard action hero might. I decide, then slip into a period of concerted Cogitating before acting. It might even appear to the inexperienced that I do nothing at all in response to deciding, that I'm not living up to my commitment. It might even appear that way to me. I could get moody until I give myself over to accepting what seems to be my usual response to deciding something. I flee to my head, deep within my head, and commence to Cogitating. I might insist that I'm thinking then, except I cannot be certain whether I'm thinking or not. I remain uncertain what thinking entails so I cannot tell if I'm engaging in that. Cogitating might be more a meditative than a thinking state, meditation being an immersive but not necessarily an analyzing or deconstructing one. I tend to float away from key choice points having chosen but not yet ready for action. I tell myself that my Cogitating prepares me to take right action without wasting effort with hasty reactions. I tell myself this story without really knowing if I'm telling myself the truth.

The truth might be that I have no good reason, no clear justification for slipping into Cogitating inaction following making a decision.
This might be a pattern I repeat out of blind habit rather than wise practice. I do not broadcast an explanation. The Muse might find me apparently dozing on the couch when she might have reasonably expected me to be more actively engaging. Yesterday, after declaring my intention to begin contacting Gatekeepers, my immediate response to making this declaration was to wrap myself in a blanket and lie down on the couch and start actively Cogitating about my decision. I was not necessarily second-guessing myself, but more seeking some wrinkle which might inspire some inventive response. It appeared, from the south side of deciding, that I found myself at the foot of an imposing cliff face which I needed to somehow scramble up. No path seemed obvious. Fact was, I would have rather found some other path than one straight up the cliff face. I needed inspiration, hence my Cogitating.

I had hoped to be able to report some stellar progress by the following morning, but I spent almost all of that work day Cogitating. By the end of that effort, I felt no closer to any next step. I might have felt a little further away. Cogitating never produces linear progress, but more the sideways variety. It inhabits another dimension, one where unlikely inventions somehow seem more likely to emerge. I seem like I'm making excuses, actively not acting, pretty obviously also not preparing. Drifting.

Trust the process, a small yet not nearly still enough voice insists. Follow the process. Cogitating's no process. It seems more like an abyss, a black hole place where little light escapes. Bertram Russell insisted that he could tuck away an aspiration, slip it into the back of his mind, then return later to find it more fully developed. Then, he could more or less just transcribe a response, his thinking, if that's what that was, taken care of by some unconscious background process. I could insist that I do this too, or certainly try to. The lack of effort involved makes this technique attractive. The inattention involved well suits my focus. My Cogitating might be bogus. I could just be sloughing off again. Whatever, I can declare that I'm not quite yet where I feel I need to be to move decisively forward. I ain't no action figure. I'm Authoring.


I some days feel as though I'm performing here. I rise each morning wondering what I'll present that day, not knowing, almost never knowing yet. Then an intuition visits, hardly an inspiration, often just a word which I might subject to a round or two of Cogitating, watching that word mutate as I play with it. I go looking for an image which might accompany, even amplify that concept, the initial whisper having already grown more insistent. Now, where to begin? Will I backfill or nudge forward this morning? What in the heck might this concept have to do with Authoring? Oh. … By then I'm in it. By Friday, I some weeks feel as though I've marched to Georgia on my fingertips without having accomplished much, though I know value tends to be a longer-term emergent property and might not be obvious at any point of first contact. This morning, though, I am not performing, for Cogitating's not really something suitable for setting on a stage. It's no song and dance routine. Some weeks end without even a whimper. Even those weeks end anyway.

I started my writing week considering the barriers I've been bumping into, each a dedication test, in
Dedication. "The universe has seemed dedicated to thwarting my forward momentum and has yet to completely stop me for long. How strong should that leave me feeling?"

I next prefaced upcoming events, predicting that some
Colluding would soon be coming. "We collude to delight each other and ourselves. We are Authoring our own experience."

I sent my growing regrets with a disappointed vision of where our age is heading in
OpServing. I caught myself Authoring my past while observing my present. "We seem to have passed into a different age. As usual, about forty percent of the population apparently didn't get the memo."

My most popular posting of the week delved into the deeply authentic with
Authorthentic. "Much of my life has become a similar work of fiction only coincidentally related to anything real, but then that's what it means to be an authentic author, the genuine article."

I wrote about the Authoring trick not exclusively the property of published authors in
Haunts. "We're powerful because we have been charged with providing the punctuation that determines how our stories turn out …"

I highlighted a rarely noted downside of Authoring in
Author-itative. "I think it particularly important, perhaps essential, that as an author, I steadfastly refuse to take myself very seriously, because taking one's self seriously carries onerous consequences."

I ended my writing week by confessing my terror when facing Authoring's many
Gatekeepers. "A canny Gatekeeper—and they're all canny—sees right through the presentation. She's sensitive to tells."

Which brings us back to where this posting started, Cogitating. From out here on Friday, this writing week seems exceptionally revealing. It served as a Dedication test, warmly anticipating upcoming Colluding, OpServing present and past, Authorthentic authentic, Haunted by stories I punctuated myself, hardly Author-itative, encountering Gatekeepers again. Always with the Gatekeepers again. Thank you for following along for the adventures of this avowed not an action figure. This nonetheless remains a genuine adventure.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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